Category Archives: Two River Times

What’s The Latest News On The Lincroft Sports Complex?

So what’s the latest news swirling around the proposed Lincroft Sports Complex? In each of this weeks editions of the Independent and the Two River Times are articles dedicated to the happens at the most recent Middletown Workshop Meeting that took place on March 1st. Both articles are well written and represents what took place pretty well.

The Independent focus was on the on going negotiations between the Board of Education and the Township over a shared service agreement that would allow the Pop Warner Football League to play games at Middletown High School South before getting into the meat and potatoes of the nights events, while the Two River Times jumped right into it.

Here are excerpts from each article:

The Independent Talks between the Middletown Township Committee and the Board of Education will reopen to discuss allowing local sports associations to use fields at Middletown High School South.

A preliminary design plan for West Front Street Park was placed on the Middletown Township website for the public to review. The existing soccer fields would be replaced with a synthetic turf field.

Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore announced at the March 1 Township Committee meeting that they would be meeting with members of the board to discuss field usage on public school property.

“We sent a letter to the Board of Ed. today officially asking to allow the Pop Warner leagues to use High School South for their games,” Scharfenberger said. “I think that would go a long way to solve a lot of the problems and would be the best solution for all the parties involved.”

He added, “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

The township has proposed a plan for West Front Street Park, off Crawfords Corner/ Everett Road, to replace the existing soccer fields with a synthetic turf field designed for football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse to be used by the public and local sports associations.

The proposal also calls for the Croydon Hall Complex, located on Leonardville Road, to have its football field replaced with an artificial turf field. A total of $2.5 million in unspent recreation funds would be used for the two projects.

The letter reads, “Specifically, the Township would like to request that the River Plaza/Lincroft Pop Warner Football program be permitted to utilize the football field and associated facilities at High School South for their five to six annual home games that take place on Sundays. Practices and other activities would still be able to take place at their current field while the West Front Street filed is resurfaced with turf for use by other leagues, but the need to utilize lighting, a public address system and concessions is lessened.”

Laura Agin, Middletown Board of Education president, said negotiations are under way.

“We’ve worked with the Township Committee and with shared services,” Agin said on March 4. “We’ve had concessions with them about the fields, and I think we will continue to work with them.”

However, a group in the Jersey Shore Football League weighed in on the controversy at the March 1 meeting….

The Two River Times Controversy continues to swirl around a proposed plan by the Middletown Township Committee to construct a multi-purpose athletic field at the intersection of West Front Street and Everett Road in Lincroft.

Residents from the potentially affected area once again came out en masse to voice their opposition to the proposal as it currently stands and urged the committee to reconsider constructing the field at a different location.

However, this round of rhetoric included supporters of the proposal primarily from active Pop Warner families, athletes, coaches, and members of the Middletown Athletic Club.

The most telling message sent to the committee might have come from Kevin O’Reilly, Vice President of the River Plaza Chargers, whose future home has been an ongoing topic of conversation among the committee members, the board of education, and area residents but has not, until Monday night, included the River Plaza Chargers organization.

Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger opened the meeting by allowing those in attendance to speak to this issue but not before he addressed the crowd with an update from the committee’s perspective.

“We sent a letter to the Board of Education today officially asking them to allow the Pop Warner league to use High School South for their games. I think that will go a long way to solving a lot of the problems and be the best solution for all parties involved,” Scharfenberger said.

Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore also offered an updated position on the issue.

“My position (at the previous meeting) was to find a way for River Plaza Pop Warner to play five or six games at High School South. From what I understand it’s not feasible to redo the facility at Trezza Field (the Chargers current home field). It’s my viewpoint, if we are able to work with the Board of Education and potentially make improvements to their field we would not have to have lights or a P.A. system at West Front Street,” Fiore said.

Fiore added that the idea would be that the Pop Warner teams practice at Trezza and play their games at High School South. Fiore also noted that the existing soccer fields at West Front Street would still be resurfaced and improved but without lighting and a public address system.

“I think that pretty much satisfies everything I’ve heard over the last month,” Fiore said.

Not according to O’Reilly.

The River Plaza Pop Warner league sent a letter to the Township Committee outlining eight needs of the league to continue operating regardless of its location. One of those needs was a fully functioning snack bar. Additionally as important were adequate restroom facilities.

According to O’Reilly, the Pop Warner league exists solely on the revenues generated by the operation of the snack bar of which High School South does not provide.

“I wish you people would speak to us because Middletown South doesn’t work,” O’Reilly said. “We play on Saturday, we play on Sunday, we play on Monday, and we also sometimes play on Wednesday and all of our revenue is from the snack bar.”

The money generated by the snack bar, which can range between four and seven thousand dollars each game day goes toward operational costs to run the league according to O’Reilly.

“To redo the helmets is thousands and thousands of dollars,” O’Reilly said….


So what have I heard over the past few days? As I said, it has been quite but here are a few things:
The meeting between the Mayor and Deputy-Mayor with the Board of Education on Thursday March 4th didn’t go as well as the Independent may have made it out to have mainly because the Pop Warner Chargers have made it loud and clear that playing football at High School South would not benefit their organization at all.
Contrary to what Mayor Scharfenberger and others who represent the Township say a wetlands study of Trezza Field, the home of the Pop Warner Chargers, was conducted back in June of 2007 by the Township’s engineering firm T&M and it seems to confirm everything that the football people have been saying all along, that Trezza Field can be expanded and resurfaced as originally planned. The Chargers, with help from their own engineer, came up with a new site proposal for Trezza Field and shared it with Mayor Scharfenberger earlier in the week. The site proposal will be introduced to the Committee Monday night at the next scheduled Committee Meeting.
And members of SONIC are still gathering petitions signatures against the sports complex to be presented at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting. SONIC members will be out in force that night to once again voice their concerns.

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Filed under Football, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex, the Independent, Two River Times, West Front Street

County Needs Ethics Board Now; Why Does Clifton Oppose Ethics Panel ?


Two River Times

By Arthur Z. Kamin

It is sad to watch members of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders squabble over how to get a much-needed county governmental ethics structure up and running. At the heart of it, Republican Freeholder Robert D. Clifton seems to want to forget the GOP-dominated Operation Bid Rig scandal four years ago and refuses to admit that the corruption stench of that time still hangs over Freehold.

The irony is that Clifton, a longtime Republican insider, is not a babe-in-the-political-woods and should have known what was taking place during those terrible days when more than two dozen Monmouth County and other officials were arrested in an FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office corruption sweep. Scooped up in that sweep was the late longtime former Republican Board of Freeholders Director Harry Larrison Jr., charged with taking bribes. It was a shameful period in county history.

And where was Clifton when former Freeholder Amy H. Handlin, now a Republican assemblywoman from the 13th legislative district, became a trailblazer for ethical reform in county government? She fought a brave battle – even going so far as to rightly urge that Larrison’s name be removed from Brookdale Community College’s tainted Larrison Hall campus building. Clifton was silent.

Now he is the major stumbling block, as the county appointed a special Ethics Review Committee that carefully examined existing policies, procedures and an employee manual concluding, “The existing structure is in need of revision.”

To his credit, Democrat Freeholder John D’Amico Jr. urged that the freeholders promptly release the report to the public. Clifton was opposed. He attempted to keep the document under wraps, not wanting to bring up reminders of the old days. How’s that for governmental transparency? But the excuse became an argument over what should be or should not be released from freeholder executive sessions.

Here is the makeup of the bipartisan pro bono ethics review committee: Retired former New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice James R. Assail; retired former Superior Court Judge Alexander D. Lehrer; and former Freeholder Director Thomas J. Powers And here is what the committee unanimously recommended to the freeholders: “the adoption of a strong county ethics code and the establishment of a nonpartisan, independent ethics board.”

The committee did not recommend the establishment of an Office of Inspector General even though recognizing the value of it could bring in the search for an ethics watchdog and higher ethical standards in county government.

Creating an inspector general’s office would be costly and – the way things often have been carried on in Monmouth County – it could lead to another bureaucracy with cronyism and patronage jobs. “But during these challenging economic times it cannot be justified,” the committee stated.

That leaves the ethics board with wide-ranging powers backed up by what should be a no-nonsense code of ethics that would include provisions pertaining to such areas as conflicts of interest, activity that gives the appearance of impropriety, gifts, lobbying of public officials, nepotism, incompatible employment, the procurement process, penalties, ethics education, and financial disclosures.

The ethics board would be able to issue subpoenas, receive complaints, and hold code violation hearings. It could forward information to law enforcement authorities. It would enforce the code and impose or recommend penalties for violations. It would have the teeth to get an ethics job done….

Read More >>> Here

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Filed under ethics, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Operation Bid Rig, Two River Times

Middletown Dems, Byrnes & Short Oppose Town Center and Object to Accusation to the Contrary

Middletown Democratic Committeemen Partick Short and Sean Byrnes rleased the following in response to a letter written Greg Vasil, President of the Concerned Citizens of Middletown:

Township Committeeman Patrick Short and I have read with dismay Mr. Vasil’s recent letter to, The Two River Times. We have no issue with his position on the Town Center project. In fact, we agree with Mr. Vasil: We don’t want the project either. We have been very clear on this with both of us voting to petition the state Supreme Court to overturn the recent Appellate Court decision that ruled in the developer’s favor. Indeed, before his election, as he did with the athletic complex in Lincroft, Mr. Short led the campaign to block the project.

Where we take issue with Mr. Vasil is when he parrots the campaign mantra of our mayor. Since last year, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, when speaking in public and when writing to newspapers, has claimed that we support the Town Center and that we are in the pocket of the developer, Joseph Azzolina. These accusations, like so many made in this year’s campaign, have no basis in fact and are part of a desperate effort to hold on to power in Middletown.

We find it quite revealing that a party that has held power for 30 years campaigns on fabricated allegations, rather than on their record of governance. Given the history of controversy involving Republican elected officials in Middletown, our mayor and his party have calculated that this year’s Republican candidates will gain votes if he casts the Democrats as favoring the Town Center. So, although we have stated openly our opposition to the project and have voted accordingly, our mayor – and now Mr. Vasil – continue to suggest otherwise.

The comments attributed to Mr. Short in the mayor’s recent introduction of an ordinance to rezone the property in question are misleading. Each of us took issue with the mayor’s decision, taken without any discussion with other committee members, to re-introduce the identical ordinance that had been struck down only weeks earlier by the Appellate Court. We did so, in part, because we feared this action would cause the court to take matters into its own hands and judicially order the approval of the Town Center project.

The Appellate Court’s recent decision severely criticizes Middletown and comes very close to ordering that the project move forward. We made a motion to table the ordinance for two weeks to allow discussion and to correct numerous errors in the ordinance that the mayor overlooked in his haste to make it a campaign issue. Even as we voted on our request for this brief period of time to discuss the ordinance, the mayor immediately alleged a connection to Mr. Azzolina. Regrettably, with nothing else to campaign on, there is little we can do to silence these baseless allegations until this election is over.

In truth, Mr. Azzolina, the developer of the Town Center project, is a long-time Republican, and the Town Center idea came from the Republican Party. He split with the current leaders of his party, who initially encouraged him to purchase the property to build Town Center. We find it somewhat amusing that our mayor, and now Mr. Vasil, would attempt to use this Republican Party spat to criticize Democrats as supporting the Town Center. We work for Middletown residents, not Mr. Azzolina. If he has expressed support for us, he has a right to do so, but any effort to characterize that support as a quid pro quo for our support of Town Center is mistaken.

Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short
Middletown Township Committee

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Filed under Greg Vasil, Joseph Azzloina, Middletown, Patrick Short, Sean F. Byrnes, Town Center, Two River Times

>Middletown Dems, Byrnes & Short Oppose Town Center and Object to Accusation to the Contrary

>Middletown Democratic Committeemen Partick Short and Sean Byrnes rleased the following in response to a letter written Greg Vasil, President of the Concerned Citizens of Middletown:

Township Committeeman Patrick Short and I have read with dismay Mr. Vasil’s recent letter to, The Two River Times. We have no issue with his position on the Town Center project. In fact, we agree with Mr. Vasil: We don’t want the project either. We have been very clear on this with both of us voting to petition the state Supreme Court to overturn the recent Appellate Court decision that ruled in the developer’s favor. Indeed, before his election, as he did with the athletic complex in Lincroft, Mr. Short led the campaign to block the project.

Where we take issue with Mr. Vasil is when he parrots the campaign mantra of our mayor. Since last year, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, when speaking in public and when writing to newspapers, has claimed that we support the Town Center and that we are in the pocket of the developer, Joseph Azzolina. These accusations, like so many made in this year’s campaign, have no basis in fact and are part of a desperate effort to hold on to power in Middletown.

We find it quite revealing that a party that has held power for 30 years campaigns on fabricated allegations, rather than on their record of governance. Given the history of controversy involving Republican elected officials in Middletown, our mayor and his party have calculated that this year’s Republican candidates will gain votes if he casts the Democrats as favoring the Town Center. So, although we have stated openly our opposition to the project and have voted accordingly, our mayor – and now Mr. Vasil – continue to suggest otherwise.

The comments attributed to Mr. Short in the mayor’s recent introduction of an ordinance to rezone the property in question are misleading. Each of us took issue with the mayor’s decision, taken without any discussion with other committee members, to re-introduce the identical ordinance that had been struck down only weeks earlier by the Appellate Court. We did so, in part, because we feared this action would cause the court to take matters into its own hands and judicially order the approval of the Town Center project.

The Appellate Court’s recent decision severely criticizes Middletown and comes very close to ordering that the project move forward. We made a motion to table the ordinance for two weeks to allow discussion and to correct numerous errors in the ordinance that the mayor overlooked in his haste to make it a campaign issue. Even as we voted on our request for this brief period of time to discuss the ordinance, the mayor immediately alleged a connection to Mr. Azzolina. Regrettably, with nothing else to campaign on, there is little we can do to silence these baseless allegations until this election is over.

In truth, Mr. Azzolina, the developer of the Town Center project, is a long-time Republican, and the Town Center idea came from the Republican Party. He split with the current leaders of his party, who initially encouraged him to purchase the property to build Town Center. We find it somewhat amusing that our mayor, and now Mr. Vasil, would attempt to use this Republican Party spat to criticize Democrats as supporting the Town Center. We work for Middletown residents, not Mr. Azzolina. If he has expressed support for us, he has a right to do so, but any effort to characterize that support as a quid pro quo for our support of Town Center is mistaken.

Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short
Middletown Township Committee

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Filed under Greg Vasil, Joseph Azzloina, Middletown, Patrick Short, Sean F. Byrnes, Town Center, Two River Times